The Importance of Social Media in Arab Spring

The Arab Spring also known as the Arab revolutions, was a wave of both violent and non-violent protests and civil wars in the North Africa Area as well as the Middle East. The revolution started on December 17th, 2010 in Tunisia, where people called for a change in the political institution and demand democracy. From this week’s media, I begin to understand that social media played a significant role in the revolution since social media acted as a tool to connect protests participants and build a platform for them to communicate with each other.

Protests in Arab Spring

In this week’s required media, I watched this shocking documentary, The Square, by Jehane Noujaim. The documentary portrays the ongoing Egyptian Crisis until 2013, which started with the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 at Tahrir Square. The Tahrir Square a public town square in Downtown Cairo, Egypt. Tahrir Square is the main focus in this documentary since it’s the starting place of the revolution.

Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt

In the documentary, I was really shocked that there are a lot of young people who participated in the revolution and are willing to devote their life to the revolution. In the documentary, the “revolutionaires”, which the people who participate in the revolution call themselves, tried so hard to fight for the revolution in order to get rid of the old regime. Social media, such as YouTube, are used by those photographers who wanted to expose the fact that the Army turned against the people after the revolution started, and soldiers fired real bullets on innocent protesters. Without the existence of social media, the army and the government would easily deny the truth that they are killing people. Social media enabled people from all over the world to know what was really happening in the revolution. Thanks to the photographers, some clips of tanks running over protesters were captured. Although the army denied in the press conference that the army didn’t kill anyone, the recorded clips showed the world what the army really did.

Tanks running over demonstrators

This video reminded me of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Back then, social media didn’t even existed, and the government would easily block the news. This is why, now, not so many Chinese citizens know anything about the Tiananmen Square protest.

The “Tank Man” in Tiananmen Square Protest

Nowadays, any political events, revolutions, riots, protests are being Tweeted, blogged and also recorded. Social media provided a platform to unite the participants of the Arab Spring and also spread the news to the entire world.


Noujaim, Jehane (Director), The Square, 2013, 105 minutes. Available for free viewing when authenticated on Berkeley Library VPN or on campus through Kanopy.

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